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Should You Replace Your Metal Fillings?

Tooth with metal filing.

For decades, traditional silver-colored, or amalgam fillings, have been standard. However, with advancements in dental technology, there is now a more aesthetically pleasing alternative that also comes with some other benefits - composite fillings.

As a result, we often get asked whether it is a good idea to replace old amalgam fillings with composite ones. The answer is going to depend on your individual situation, and, ultimately, you should talk about it with your dentist. However, here we discuss some reasons that you might want to consider replacing older fillings.

Amalgam vs. Composite Fillings

Amalgam fillings, often referred to as silver or metal fillings, have been a staple in dentistry for over a century. They are composed of a mixture of metals, which can include mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Amalgam fillings are known for their durability and longevity. They can withstand the forces of chewing and can last for many years. In addition, they tend to be the less costly option.

On the other hand, composite fillings are a more modern alternative. They are made of a tooth-colored resin material that is bonded to the tooth. Composite fillings offer several advantages, including their natural appearance, ability to bond directly to the tooth, and the potential for less removal of healthy tooth structure during placement.

Reasons to Replace Amalgam Fillings

As we mentioned, the decision to undergo any dental procedure should involve a discussion between you and your dentist. But here are some reasons you may find compelling.

New Decay

One of the primary reasons for replacing amalgam fillings is the development of new decay around the existing filling. Over time, the seal connecting the tooth and the filling can weaken, allowing bacteria to penetrate and create new cavities. If you have decay around your old fillings, it's likely time to replace them. Composite fillings bond to the tooth, reducing the risk of recurrent decay.

Cracking or Chipping

Amalgam fillings can be prone to expansion and contraction with temperature changes due to the fact that they are made from metal. This may lead to cracks or chips in the filling or the tooth itself. Cracked or chipped fillings can create a pathway for bacteria to enter the tooth, causing further damage. In addition, the cracks or chips can weaken the tooth structure. Composite fillings are less likely to cause cracks or chips and can help maintain the tooth's integrity.

Loose Fillings

Over time, amalgam fillings may become loose or dislodged. This can be a source of discomfort and can also expose the tooth to further damage and decay. If your amalgam filling is loose or needs to be replaced, it is a good time to consider a composite filling. Composite fillings are typically more secure and less likely to become loose, providing a stable restoration.

Aesthetics

One of the biggest reasons composite fillings are desirable to patients is their natural appearance. Unlike silver amalgam fillings, composite fillings are tooth-colored and blend seamlessly with your natural teeth. If you're concerned about the appearance of your smile, replacing your amalgam fillings with composite ones can significantly enhance the beauty of your teeth. While this isn't a medical reason to replace your fillings, it is your own personal choice to weigh the risks and benefits of replacing your fillings for aesthetic reasons.

Are You Considering Replacing Your Fillings?

Dental fillings, whether amalgam or composite, serve a crucial role in preserving your oral health. If you're experiencing issues with your amalgam fillings, such as new decay, cracks, or loose fillings, it's time to consider replacing them. During your regular dental check-ups, we can monitor the condition of your fillings so you can address concerns.

And, even if your motivation is simply to improve the look of your smile, that is a valid reason and worth discussing with your dentist.

If you have concerns about your existing fillings or are interested in exploring the option of composite fillings or other new restorations, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment. We can evaluate your specific situation, consider your dental history, and discuss your goals for your smile.

 

 

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